A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
Sometimes I get the idea that Chicago is trapped in a time warp, and that is why we get European films a year after their New York openings. Alain Resnais' "La Guerre Est Finie," for example, still hasn't played here a year after its heralded arrival in New York.
The Town Underground has been helping the situation recently with a series of first-run films by such as Tony Richardson, Jules Dassin and Resnais. The trouble is, some of the runs have been so short the secret didn't leak out that they were even in town.
The current offering, which crept into town under cover of Christmas and will doubtless creep out again in a day or two, is Roman Polanski's "Cul-de-Sac." It arrives bedecked with the best film award from the Berlin film festival and the critic's award from Venice.
Polanski, the wild man of the young European directors, made this after "Knife in the Water" and before he came to Hollywood. He shot it in English on location in a grim British castle where Sir Walter Scott allegedly wrote "Rob Roy." He has populated the castle with strange people: Donald Pleasence, who shaves his head; Francoise Dorleac, his sensuous young French wife, and Lionel Stander, as a criminal who terrorizes them for two days.